There are billions of dollars to be made on Valentine's Day. More than 190 million cards are sent to mark the occasion, while one-third of U.S. consumers order flowers for a beloved [sources: Roach, Andrews]. According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes will be sold; the association also reports that about 8 billion candy conversation hearts are made each year -- enough to stretch from Rome, Italy, to Valentine, Ariz., and back 20 times.
We may distribute hundreds of candy hearts with cute messages every February, but there's no reason why sharing what's in our heart can't be a year-round enterprise. With just a little bit of effort, you can have a romantic night any time of the year. And if your honey is sick of chocolates, flowers and greeting cards, a little non-Valentine's Day romance may be just what your relationship needs.
Don't Judge Your Dinner by the Price Tag
It's easy to build a romantic night around dinner, but don't think that you have to pick a hoity-toity restaurant with a menu in a foreign language to create a special evening. There are all sorts of food options that will set a passionate mood without breaking the bank. For example, if the two of you are coming off a long work week, then take-out food on your fancy china enjoyed by candlelight can be quite romantic.
Perhaps your sweetheart craves comfort food and would adore a plate of macaroni and cheese as opposed to a labor-intensive risotto. For some couples, collaborating and cooking the meal together is the recipe for making sparks fly, while other couples may thrive on the adventure of trying a new cuisine at a restaurant on the other side of town. You may also enjoy a simple picnic of finger foods -- dining al fresco can be quite romantic, as can an indoor picnic in front of the fire. The point is to make your romantic dinner your own, not a stereotype of what you believe a romantic dinner is.
Try Something New
How many times have you and your loved one eaten a delicious dinner only to fall asleep on the couch in front of the television? While snuggling on the couch and watching a movie can make for a romantic date, it might be fun to shake things up a bit and try a new activity. What new pursuit you choose will depend on factors like your budget or the length of your relationship.
If you're dreaming big, you could fly to a romantic city like Paris or Venice and enjoy an enchanting locale, but there are plenty of other options that don't require frequent flyer miles. From cornfield mazes to comedy clubs and from museums to mini golf, your hometown likely offers tons of entertaining things you've never gotten around to trying. Cut loose at a carnival, take a turn on the dance floor or sing a duet with your sweetheart at karaoke. Try out that swanky wine bar or cute sweet shop that you're always driving by. And if you'd rather stay at home, then you might consider ideas such as a bubble bath or a backyard star-gazing adventure. The options are limitless -- the important thing is to spend some quality time together, and breaking loose of the same old routine instantly makes memories.
Dressing up is an easy way to make a romantic night feel even more special. Now, there's no need to splurge on tuxedo rental or break the bank on a new evening gown -- though if you're looking for an excuse, don't let us stop you! But if your regular garb includes sweatpants or torn jeans, a nice pair of khakis or that skirt that's been hanging in the back of your closet is the way to go. Break out those earrings that you save for special occasions, even if this occasion finds you having a romantic night at home. And sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and your loved one probably cares for you no matter what you look like, but making an effort to look nice is a sweet sign of respect for your beloved whether it's the first date or the 91st.
You've created the perfect itinerary for your romantic night: a candlelit dinner, a carriage ride through the park and a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire. The only problem? You scheduled your romantic evening on the same night as the big game, and now your loved one can barely focus on what you're saying because he or she is constantly asking someone about the score.
The purpose of a romantic night is to spend time with your special someone, so check all distractions at the door and make that person feel like he or she is the only thing that matters for the evening. Find a baby- or a pet-sitter so that you're free of responsibility for the evening, and turn off the constantly beeping cell phone. If you're staying home, don't turn on the television (even as "background noise" -- that's what romantic music is for!) and clean up a bit, particularly if your sweetheart will get distracted by a big pile of laundry in the hallway.
Don't Stress Out
If you're trying to plan the perfect romantic night, things can get stressful. You want everything to be perfect, and you want every word out of your mouth to be a breathtaking declaration of love. To truly have a great night, you're going to have to relax and go with the flow, for your own sake as well as that of your partner. Stress is very unromantic.
So don't get too worked up if the candles keep going out, or if your reservation gets lost or if the hot air balloon ride gets cancelled because of weather. On a romantic night, it's not so important what you do, it's important that you spend time with your loved one. Have fun and enjoy yourselves, and remember that one couple's romantic night likely looks very different from another couple's. Despite the tips on our list, there's no right or wrong way to set the mood for romance, so stop judging yourself on perceived failures and focus on that loving feeling!
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- Andrews, Moya. "Valentine's Day Flower Sales." Indiana Public Media. Feb. 12, 2009. (Jan. 31, 2011)http://indianapublicmedia.org/focusonflowers/valentine-flower-sales/
- Jackson, Jennifer. "Romantic Date Ideas." Marie Claire. (Jan. 31, 2011)http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/advice/tips/romantic-first-date-ideas
- LovingYou.com Web site. (Jan. 31, 2011)http://www.lovingyou.com/
- National Confectioners Association Web site. (Jan. 31, 2011)http://candyusa.com/
- Redbook. "43 Date Night Ideas." (Jan. 31, 2011)http://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/advice/43-date-night-ideas
- Roach, John. "Valentine's Day Facts: Gifts, History and Love Science." National Geographic News. Feb. 11, 2009. (Jan. 31, 2011)http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090211-valentines-day-gifts-history.html